Merit slush funds for teachers

By Jason Wojciechowski on October 25, 2005 at 9:55 PM

A guest-blogger at Eduwonk wonders whether there are other things to offer "meritorious teachers" instead of just pay increases, and suggests a sort of "slush fund" reward that would give teachers money to spend on their classrooms.

I'm not sure how serious (s)he is being, but the idea that meritorious teachers should get money to improve their classrooms and their schools (like the idea of teachers banding together to hire a social worker) and "bad" teachers shouldn't is ridiculous. Utterly insane. What kind of logic is it that sends the scarce resources a system has to the places where they're least needed?

Merit pay is a bad idea on its own, simply because the idea of rewarding teachers for test scores is a horrible one. I've said it before and I'll say it again: these little incremental fixes (like merit pay, or smaller schools, or buses to the suburbs) people keep wanting to implement aren't going to get the job done. Education needs to be completely re-imagined and have its purposes re-investigated before anything's ever going to get fixed.

As long as we're focused on the idea that a student's vocabulary quiz is all that matters, education isn't going to work all that well.